Waiting to return home, Siddique tells BBC

Latif

After being removed from the cabinet and expelled from the ruling party, Abdul Latif Siddique says he wants to return home but is awaiting the party decision in this regard. He said this while speaking to BBC Bangla yesterday evening.

Protests were launched against him after recent remarks he made in New York against Hajj and the Prophet (SM). On Sunday he was removed from the party and the government.

Latif Siddique is presently in Kolkata from where he spoke to BBC. The interview is given below:

Question: How are you taking your removal from the government and the party?

Latif Siddique: Positively, because I am part of the party. The party has certain rules and discipline. The party and the leader of the party feel I have violated this discipline. They have taken action accordingly. There is no reason for me to react negatively to this. It is this party that made me a minister; it is the leader who made me a minister. Now if she and her colleagues feel I am not fit to be a minister, it is a matter of the majority’s opinion in a democracy. There is nothing wrong in that.

Q: Do you agree with the party leaders?

LS: I do, because I believe in democracy. The decision of the majority is my decision.

Q: Do you feel you are being done an injustice?

LS: No, no. On the contrary, I am sorry. I have put my party and my leader into an embarrassing situation.

Q: Are you having regrets about the entire situation?

LS: No, I have no regrets or remorse. I have embarrassed my leader. She trusted me. I have caused her a lot of trouble.

Q: But you say you are not repentant.

LS: My regret is that there is no person or journalist in the entire world who mentioned that I was just speaking at an informal gathering. This was no meeting, no seminar, there was no microphone. They should have heard my entire deliberation. They didn’t think that a comment out of context could have been twisted. That is my regret. I take responsibility for all that I have said. I spoke for one and a half hours. Find the recording of that entire one-and-a-half-hour talk. I take responsibility for that entirely.

Q: What is your next step, under the circumstances? Won’t you return home?

LS: I am eager to return home because I am working for the independence and the development of the country. At the moment, however, I am not sure what I will do. It may embarrass my leader further if I return home. I am in a serious dilemma. But I will return to the country at the first opportunity.

You are still not decided?

It’s not that. I am just worried that my leader or my party may be harmed if I return. I am not worried about myself.

How will you understand if they will be harmed unless you actually return?

They will let me know. I will be able to understand.

Have you tried to contact your party leader?

By party leader you mean Sheikh Hasina. No, I haven’t tried to contact her.

Do you want the party to ask you to return?

It’s for them to decide what they will do.

Taslima Nasrin and Daud Haider can’t return to the country. Do you apprehend that you too may not be able to return?

They expressed themselves in their writing. They said one thing, but my words have been distorted, quoted out of context. On the whole, it was an academic discussion.

People believe you have hurt religious sentiments. Do you fear that you may not be able to return home?

Time will tell. There have been many incidents in my life. After Bangabandhu died, I protested. I was criticised. I moved away due to differences with Kader Siddiqui. Now Kader Siddiqui is asking for forgiveness on my behalf. Who gave him the right to ask forgiveness for me? I didn’t given him the responsibility to ask for forgiveness on my behalf. He is in one party, I am in another.

If you can’t return home anytime soon and if your party doesn’t signal you to return, where will you stay? In India?

No, I only came to Kolkata because I won’t be able to stay in Europe or America. I want to stay near the soil.

Will you be able to stay in India? Has the Indian government given you any indications?

I will not say anything about this now. Time will tell.

Source: Prothom Alo

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